KEITH Curle was encouraged by the fighting spirit his side showed in defeat to Morecambe to run the promotion-chasing Shrimps close, but crucially rued the poor defending which cost them on the coast.

Latics conceded a sloppy early goal to put them on the back foot at the Mazuma Stadium and eventually recovered to equalise with Conor McAleny's 20th goal of the season.

But the home side struck twice in quick succession before the break, with Aaron Wildig and Cole Stockton on target, to give Oldham a mountain to climb.

Morecambe top scorer Carlos Mendes Gomes' second of the afternoon made the task even harder early in the second half.

But to their credit Latics refused to give up and got back into it by scoring twice from corners through Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Kyle Jameson to make for a nervy finale for fourth-placed Morecambe.

The home side held their nerve to secure back-to-back home wins, and Curle reflected on being the architects of their own downfall.

"It's a frustrating one," said the head coach.

"I told the players I would publicly not so much defend and protect but I'll say the right things by saying we came away from home to a team that's doing well and scored three goals and were competitive with a never say die attitude, we kept going to the end, tried to get something out of the game. But internally, not good enough, nowhere near good enough - and that's not giving too much away.

"The standards that I require, we haven't met today. Some of the play was okay; some of the mistakes, not acceptable.

"There's a very thin line, if you want to be a passing team you've got to be relaxed, but that relaxed level cannot be sloppy, and I thought some of play today, some of our defending today, some of our decision making today, was sloppy, and I don't like it."

Curle, who was hoping to secure three wins on the spin for the first time this season, conceded that the way they started and ended the first half was too costly.

"Sometimes players start believing their hype and sometimes players start believing they're very good players but good players have got a habit of doing the basics right. You don't see that many good players continually putting their hand up saying 'sorry'," he continued.

"Good players do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, how it needs to be done. It's getting that understanding of what you're good at as a player and continually doing it.

"You win as a team, lose as a team. It is a squad game. I don't think today we gave a true representation of what we're trying to achieve at the football club.

"You can say you came away from home and scored three goals. I think sometimes you can hide behind that and it's a mask.

"The goals that we gave away today were poor and they could have been stopped."